I like Lacoste shirts. They last forever, they feel comfortable and yes I think the little alligator is cool. But they are way too expensive! And I recently walked into a Lacoste store in an outlet mall. I thought outlet malls were supposed to be a better deal, was I wrong, these alligator shirts were as expensive as ever, so I walked out.
So why would someone pay $120 for a polo shirt? Full disclosure, I own two of these shirts. But, as any good personal finance blogger diligently on the path to FI, I bought both of mine used on eBay for $13-20, NOT $120!
The store was packed and people were snatching up expensive shirts left and right. As I walked out I wondered why? Sure, these are great shirts, but why would we pay so much? Look at the people in these ads, they are tough, fit and nobody’s fool! Boom! Branded! Perhaps people think psychologically that if they own the same emblem, then they will project the same values?
Brands Help Us Create Our Identity
Brands help us communicate our values and desires to the rest of the world. The geniuses that manage and invent brands know this! After making a Lacoste shirt it should probably cost $20, slap a little alligator and add $100! Make people believe through advertising that having that alligator says you appreciate fine things, you own stuff, you play tennis on the weekends, you are fit, you are wise to the way of the world!
So next time you choose a brand, just be aware of what you are paying for. I’m not judging, it’s a free country and people can do what they want with their money. Here are other things brands do for us psychologically.
Fulfill a desire
Brands help us fulfill a desire for self improvement. No one wants to live in the muck in a slum in a 3rd world country. Humans have minds that want to dream, work and succeed. We want to make close ones proud to be around us. We want people to like us and desire us. Brands know all this and utilize advertising and brand association to help us in this area.
Again, I am not judging. Just know what brands are doing. Millenials are changing the landscape of brands and seem to have different tastes and desires in life. It may not be the traditional post WWII vision for them, and that is ok, the world changes. Millenials love Amazon, Apple and Target.
Believe in the future
Brands help us have confidence that the future is bright. The human mind is capable of continual improvement. We can analyze a problem and address it to make things better. Isn’t it fun to believe the future is positive and better? I know I want to feel that way. Certain brands are projecting this image and help us believe in it.
Companies are doing some very smart things to improve the demand for their brands. An interesting example lately is the demise of Victoria’s Secret in the age of MeToo and the rise of Aerie brand. The Victoria Secret models have almost impossible physical bodies for most people to achieve, similar to the Abercrombie & Fitch models of the late 90’s for men. Aerie on the other hand shows what most women look like. These aren’t women that are part of some millionaire beauty pageant. These are real working women that have shit to do like build a career, take care of kids and their family and don’t make it to the gym every day. Bottom line is that Aerie is kicking ass with sales. And it is branding, their underwear and bras are probably made in the same factory as VS.
Normal ladies buy underwear too!
We very rarely feel a complete sense of freedom in the American working class. We do not take time off like our friends in Canada and Germany. They take several weeks to a month off a year to recharge. Americans like the Japanese just work all the time. Some brands understand this and they understand that we want to have a fleeting sense of freedom every once in a while.
Think about Starbucks. The coffee is quite average, but you pay for the experience and relaxation. It’s a social break from the grind and monotony. It’s branding.
So why do you buy what you buy? Give some thought to the deeper reasons. If you want to go brandless then check out the brandless site.
Jerry and I recently took our families to Disneyland and it was amazing! I realized the power of the Disney brand. It made me feel proud to be in America and proud of our creativity. It made me feel like a solid member of the middle class. It made me nostalgic for my childhood. What an amazingly powerful thing, no wonder they can charge $120 per ticket and $40 for mouse ears!
Are we brands?
Know your brands but don’t be suckered by them. Find balance and deals. In other words don’t pay $120 for an alligator symbol, buy it used online for $15-25! 😀 Keep the expensive coffee brand and other brands in check and balances with the budget if you want to achieve FI. Happy branding yourself, it is almost inescapable. We are all pretty much NASCAR drivers with our favorite brand patches all over ourselves.
Some career experts are saying we are brands now. We brand ourselves at work and in life with our reputations, temperament and skills. If this is the case then give some thought to how you want to project to the world. What value is an employer receiving from you? How can you improve your personal brand? Is this going too far? Perhaps not, perhaps we are doing this all the time whether we want to or not. If you don’t want to participate, then you may need to live alone in the woods with no wi-fi. (Sounds kind of nice sometimes)
When I think about this stuff I can reveal what brand I want to project:
– successful family man, loyal to family and friends.
– proud American and independent minded.
– Thoughtful, creative, striving to add value and improve. Hope to leave the world a little better place because I once existed.
Hey, it’s a start, right? And I really didn’t need a little alligator patch for any of it. 😜 Next we will may be making Money Vikings branded t-shirts. It says I take charge of my financial fate, I’m from humble beginnings but I can handle this world, take care of the ones I love and each day get closer to independence!